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'I'm not in this sport to be popular' | Jack Flaherty talks dominant start for Cardinals, impact off the field

"I think Jackie Robinson said it best. 'A life isn't important except in the impact it has on other people's lives,'" Flaherty said about his outlook

ST. LOUIS — Not much is fazing Jack Flaherty these days. Whether it be on the field, or off of it.

The Cardinals' ace has the most wins of any pitcher in baseball, with W's in his last seven starts. He has an ERA of 2.47 overall on the season. In those past seven starts his ERA is just 1.47.

And for Flaherty, it's all about the process.

"It doesn't just start with start day. It goes all the days in between. Start day would be nothing if there wasn't the days in between," Flaherty told 5 On Your Side Sports Director Frank Cusumano on Sports Plus.

Flaherty said that mindset of competing just as hard on his "off" days was driven home by guys like Chris Carpenter and Bob Gibson, whom the young righty has been able to call mentors.

"Big Carp, Chris Carpenter. He continued to harp on the fact that you've got to do your work in between. Days 1-4 are just as important as day 5 when you think about it," Flaherty said.

"Just to be able to have a relationship with Gibson was special. Especially knowing he doesn't do that with very many people. He just told me to be myself. Own the plate, own the game. You're out there with the ball in your hand, you're controlling it. They've got to hit you." 

"Being able to have both those guys in my corner and talk to them whenever I could ... Rest in peace to Gibson, but still having Chris Carpenter around, and even Adam Wainwright. He's the same way. Watching him day in and day out and it goes without saying, you learn from watching him."

Flaherty has made waves in St. Louis for his pitching ability, and for his strong stances when it comes to social justice issues. Flaherty knows his outspoken nature may have cost him a few fans that still don't see eye-to-eye with him, but that isn't going to stop him from following his instincts.

"I'm not in this sport to be popular. I'm not here to just give the popular opinion on certain things. The way I play the game is the way I have to play it. And the same thing goes on when you talk about social issues or human rights," Flaherty said. "If certain human rights rub people the wrong way, people may have to look in the mirror and think about what's actually going on. Because when you really dig down deep and look at what's going on I think certain people are going to have to look in the mirror."

Flaherty's teammate Adam Wainwright stood alongside the young ace when it came to his, and the team's support of Black Lives Matter in 2020. The veteran's support for Black teammates like Flaherty was not lost on the upstart star.

"He's (Wainwright) just a good all-around dude. He's somebody who gets it. He's someone who can see the right side of things. He's a religious man and a believer. He's somebody you can go to for everything," Flaherty said. "He's gonna support what he supports. He's someone who can see the right side of things and so it's good to have someone like that around. To have someone like him around means a lot."

At just 25 years old, Flaherty still has most of his career ahead of him. But when asked about what he wants to accomplish in those years, Flaherty already knows that answer.

"I think Jackie Robinson said it best. 'A life isn't important except in the impact it has on other people's lives.' Baseball-wise, win as many rings as possible. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how can you impact those around you. And how can you bring the sport of baseball back to certain communities it's kind of gotten away from," Flaherty said.

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